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AstraZeneca removes R&D and commercial heads

Pascal Soriot's leadership shake-up will see Martin Mackay and Tony Zook leave

AstraZeneca's CEO Pascal Soriot has made his first major changes at the top since joining the company in October last year, removing the heads of the company's R&D and commercial operations.

President of R&D Martin Mackay and executive VP, global commercial Tony Zook will leave AstraZeneca at the end of this month as Soriot looks to revitalise a pharma firm that has struggled with several high profile development failures and expensive deals with little return.

Instead appointing direct replacements for the two men AstraZeneca will create several new roles in a reshuffle of its business. Its R&D leadership will be split into three existing positions: one responsible for discovery and early stage development in small molecules; one for discovery and early stage development in biologics (the company's MedImmune subsidiary); and one for late stage development.

Similarly, commercial leadership will be split into three roles, but divided by geography rather than product life cycle stage. The regions covered are North America, Europe and international and are respectively filled by Paul Hudson, Ruud Dobber and Mark Mallon.

Soriot also added another executive position responsible for global portfolio and product strategy, bridging between the R&D and sales organisation, but this role has yet to be filled.

The CEO explained the reshuffle by saying it would streamline the company's efforts and improve management efficiency.

“This new senior executive team structure, that draws heavily from the leadership talent within the company, enables us to bring an even sharper management focus to key pipeline assets, key brands and key markets, and helps us further accelerate decision-making,” he said.

The changes come two weeks ahead of the presentation of AstraZeneca's financial results for 2012 when Soriot is expected to reveal his strategy for the company's future.

Since joining from Roche in late 2012, he has hinted at the potential for smaller acquisitions to boost AstraZeneca's R&D efforts, with the suspension of share repurchase programme fuelling speculation about this.

However, a large-scale purchase appears to have been ruled out, and the latest shake-up suggests the company is looking towards a more focused R&D approach.

16th January 2013

From: Research, Sales

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